Documenter: James Hiatt

Agency holding meeting: Calcasieu Parish School Board

Date: Sept. 13, 2022

Summary: CPSB received reports and presentations, and voted to approve all agenda items after a brief debate.

The Scene 

Approximately 50 people were in the audience at the beginning of the meeting, with several groups leaving after their presentations.

Community Perspective 

No public comments were taken at the meeting.

Notes

Law Enforcement Updates

The meeting began with presentations that included an update from local Law Enforcement agencies about the preparedness of their agencies to respond to any crisis in the schools. Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said “We are committed to stopping all threats to schools and protecting our children. We are all on the same page about protecting our students. We are extremely glad about what CPSB allows us to do in these schools.” Officers from around the Parish, including McNeese, Iowa, Vinton, the Marshal’s office, and the Louisiana State Police were recognized for their work in protecting schools.

District 8 board member Eric Tarver reiterated his stance that law enforcement should be given access to all the available school security cameras.

Mental health access

Recognition was given for National Suicide Prevention Month and the peer support leaders from Sam Houston Highschool. Mr. Ken Brown, a Calcasieu Parish teacher, has spearheaded the effort to bring more resources to this issue. A public service video was created with collaboration from LaGrange, Barbe, and Sam Houston high schools to model behavior and help at-risk students.

Finances

  • Superintendent LaFargue’s report included that sales tax revenue was down 8.8% from the same month last year. He also said that the LaGrange Turnaround Principle position had been filled and that Dr. Corwin Robinson would begin Sept 19th.

(The board then went into executive session concerning a Worker’s Compensation claim, which was then approved.)

  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters MentorU program was re-approved and $25,000 was given to support this program. MentorU is targeted at at-risk 12 to 17-year-olds. 

The Debate

The District Attorney’s Early Intervention Program—a “cooperative effort between the Office of District Attorney Stephen Dwight and the Calcasieu Parish School System”— was the topic of some debate. The program, for elementary students Pre-K thru 5th grade, was approved in 2007 and left to the former Superintendent to continue year after year without needing board approval. The CPSB portion of the program is $50,000/year. Several board members, including Dellafosse, Wallace and Gay, stated that they had not been aware of the program and wanted every continued program and expense to come before the board and not be left solely to the discretion of the Superintendent.

Mr. Dellafosse amended the current proposal to have the program report back yearly to the board and require board approval for all further extensions. The amendment passed and $50,000 was awarded for this program.

Follow-up questions

Are there other programs and expenses, similar to the Early Intervention Program, buried in the budget that aren’t clear to the Board or the public?

What is the timeline and plan for the hurricane relief funding that is being distributed to the school system?

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